Archive for January 22nd, 2012

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook reiterated on Sunday, three days after signing a five-year extension, that he never considered leaving the Thunder.

“From day one, this is the spot I wanted to be,” Westbrook said. “The organization believed in me by surprisingly picking me No. 4. A lot of guys doubted me, but from day one this organization supported me.”

Westbrook would have become a restricted free agent if he had not agreed to a contract by Wednesday. But the Thunder’s commitment to him, Westbrook said, made staying for another five seasons a no-brainer.

“I can say this for any player in the league. You want to be somewhere where you’re wanted,” Westbrook said. “I wanted to be somewhere where I had great support, and this is the spot for me.”

– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman

Tiago Splitter

Finally a fixture in coach Gregg Popovich’s rotation in his second NBA season, Splitter is learning something that he long suspected about the American game: Playing it is more beneficial than watching it.

“You learn more when you play,” said Splitter, the 27-year-old Brazilian who appeared in just 60 games as a rookie. “You learn from what you see every day and get a feel for the game.”

A trip around the league has made Splitter more comfortable and confident on the court, particularly in the low block. He is learning how certain defenders — such as Houston’s Luis Scola and Jordan Hill on Saturday — want to attack him, and, as importantly, how to counterattack.

With Tim Duncan out of the lineup for a 105-102 loss to the Rockets, Splitter exploded for a career-high 25 points off the bench, going 11 of 13 from the floor.

– Reported by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News

Damion James

Shawne Williams went through vigorous workouts yesterday and is expected to return to the lineup for tonight’s game against the Bobcats after missing the last four games with shin splints.

But the Nets have lost Damion James indefinitely, and he will undergo surgery on his right foot Tuesday to replace the screw he had inserted last year to help repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in the foot.

“It’s disappointing,” coach Avery Johnson said before last night’s 84-74 loss to the Thunder. “Here’s a kid we drafted last year, we had him inked in as his starting three man and in the Eastern Conference … Hopefully the surgery will go well, and for us and him and his career, hopefully we can get this corrected and he won’t have a problem anymore.”

– Reported by Tim Bontemps of the New York Post

Deron Williams

Deron Williams can’t crack the cold and uncomfortable Rock, so he’s waiting for a better home in Brooklyn.

After another horrendous shooting night for himself and the Nets in Newark, Williams expressed displeasure with the team’s stopgap home court at the Prudential Center, essentially calling it inadequate for basketball.

“I don’t like this arena one bit. It’s a good thing it’s not our arena next year,” he said matter-of-factly after shooting 5-of-18 in an 84-74 loss to the Thunder Saturday night. “Even last year, it just doesn’t feel like our home arena, I don’t know why.”

“It just doesn’t have good visual. The depth perception is not there.”

The Nets (4-12, 1-5 at home), who are scheduled to move to the $1 billion Barclays Center next season, shot a paltry 31% overall, and just 3-of-23 from beyond the arc — leaving the team with a 38% shooting percentage at home and 43% on the road.

– Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

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